25 Iconic Hong Kong Dishes To Try In 2021
Some say that knowing people in high places is what gets you ahead, but in this food-obsessed city, ordering the right food in the right places might be just as important. How many of these Hong Kong classics—past, present and future—are you able to tick off the list? Let’s play!
1/24 Amber’s corn & caviar
Corn, because plants rule, and the new Amber is all about putting great vegetables front and center; and caviar, because it’s an essential Hong Kong food group, obviously.
Amber, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
2/24 Bakehouse’s sourdough egg tart
What's jiggly and silky, encased in flaky pastry, lightly caramelised and creates queues around the block?
Bakehouse, 14 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Bakehouse Soho, G/F 5 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong
See also: 5 New Must-Try Pastries At Bakehouse's Soho Branch
3/24 The Chairman’s steamed flower crab with Chenchun noodles and chicken fat
If fine Chinese dining in Hong Kong had its own coat of arms, a picture of this dish, with the crustacean's peach patterns and the sparkle of rendered chicken fat, might be it.
The Chairman, 18 Kau U Fong, Central, Hong Kong
4/24 Hoi On Café’s cubed French toast
Opened in 1952, this cha chaan teng has true retro cred, but be warned, both the glossy red banquettes and the cubed French toast—a peanut butter sandwich cut into quarters before being deep-fried, for maximum batter coverage—might make your heart stop.
Hoi On, 17 Connaught Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
5/24 Hoover Cake Shop’s walnut cup cake
Chow Yun-fat’s favourite bakery is well known for its chiffon cakes and egg tarts, but longtime fans (like Chow) know that the walnut cupcake, satisfyingly dense with whole nuts in the batter, is the real star here.
Hoover Bakery, 136 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong
See also: Tatler Insiders On The Best Food And Drinks In Hong Kong
6/24 Kin’s Kitchen’s smoked chicken
Trust the Lau family to make a Hong Kong classic of soy sauce chicken even better by using a fresh local bird, and smoking it with roses, rock sugar and sugar cane.
Kin's Kitchen, 5/F, W Square, 314-324 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
See also: Top 10 Local Chicken Dishes In Hong Kong
7/24 Kwan Kee's white eel claypot rice
It's not truly winter in Hong Kong until you're chiselling away at the crisp, golden crust of a claypot rice. Bonus Hongkonger points if you move the eel onto a separate plate before you start. (How else do you ensure it doesn't get mashed, or worse, eaten, before you get to the crust?)
Kwan Kee Claypot Rice, Shop 1, Wo Yick Mansion, 263 Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
See also: 11 Hong Kong Restaurants For The Best Claypot Rice
8/24 Lin Heung’s pork liver siu mai
In a city where a regular Sunday might consist of dim sum with free flow champagne, Lin Heung offers a reminder of our humble traditions, such as never wasting any part of the animal, especially when it’s as nutritious as pig’s liver.
Lin Heung, 160-164 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
See also: Dim Sum At Lin Heung With Fergus Henderson
9/24 Luk Yu’s sweet and sour pork
Glance over the dining rooms at lunchtime, and there’s an amber glow from every table. If there was a Central office worker starter pack, Luk Yu’s sweet and sour pork would be on it, front and center.
Luk Yu, G/F-3/F, 24 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
10/24 Mak’s wonton noodles
Will eating all those silky "goldfish tails” make you a goldfish? We hope not, because you’d never want to forget the delicate bounce and sweet oceanic umami of these dainty bowls of wontons.
Mak's, G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
11/24 Master Low Key’s egg waffles
You can expect perfectly formed, light-as-air gai daan zai every time from Master Low Key—this level of consistency gets a lot of high key love from snack experts all around Hong Kong.
Master Low Key, Shop B3, G/F, 76A Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong
12/24 New Punjab Club’s tandoori cobia
Big, juicy chunks of fish, in a lightly spiced, smoky robe. They flake at the slightest touch, playing slip and slide all the way to your mouth. It’s tandoor mastery in a dish.
New Punjab Club, G/F, 34 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
13/24 On Lei’s fish ball and fish cake noodles
The fish balls and fish cake at this Shau Kei Wan institution are a tasty reminder that many of Hong Kong’s earliest inhabitants were hugely resourceful fishers who used every last bit of their catch.
On Lee, 22 Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong
14/24 Roots’ prawn toast
An old-school favourite turned new wave signature, this reimagined prawn toast by chef Stephanie Wong features salmon roe and and pickled onions that promise a rollercoaster of textures and flavours.
Roots, G/F, 7 Sun Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
See also: The One Ingredient That Always Reminds Chef Stephanie Wong Of Home
15/24 Samsen’s wagyu beef boat noodles
When this bowl first appeared in 2016, it set a new standard for boat noodles in the city. Although an outlet has since opened in Sheung Wan, the original in Wan Chai is still the only place to get these noods.
Samsen, G/F, 68 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
See also: Samsen's Adam Cliff On The Joy Of Thai Noodles
16/24 Shui Kee’s ngau jap meen
Fresh ngau jap (beef offal) is used to be ubiquitous in this town, but like many of the toughest jobs, the fresh offal trade has been in decline. Shui Kee’s insistence on buying only fresh beef and innards makes it a precious jewel in the street food crown.
Shui Kee, 2 Gutzlaff Street, Central, Hong Kong
17/24 Spring Moon’s pan-fried cheung fun with XO sauce
XO sauce is now known the world over, and it's thanks to Spring Moon, believed to be the originators of the recipe. Savour it in its full, dried-seafood-packed splendour as a perfect accent for plain cheung fun, each bite a delightful package complete with golden, crispy, pan-fried edges.
Spring Moon, 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 22 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
18/24 Sun Hang Yuen's beef omelette sandwich and milk tea
Drop in anytime—literally, it’s a 24-hour cha chaan teng—for a pick-me-up in the form of a super strength milk tea, made with their own custom blend of over 60 teas, paired with a perfectly toasted and salty corned beef omelette sandwich.
Sun Hang Yuen, G/F, 186 Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
19/24 Little Bao Diner’s Szechuan chicken bao
Crunchy, mala, with just enough acidity—flavours and textures that we know and love, amped up and remixed into bao form. There’s a strict rule at Little Bao Diner against bao cutting, but they're too good to share anyway.
Little Bao Diner, Shop H1, G/F, Fashion Walk, 9 Kingston Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
20/24 Tai Ping Koon’s soufflé
The sheer size of this soufflé means it's fit for any celebration, or just any time you need a fluffy cloud of camp, sugary joy.
Tai Ping Koon, G/F, 40 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
21/24 VEA’s abalone pithivier
Chinese-style dried abalone need hours of careful cooking to reach a “tong sum” state—that yielding texture akin to gummy bears that responds to a sharp knife but doesn’t disintegrate at its touch. At VEA, this delicacy is wrapped in puff pastry as a pithivier, a remarkable marriage of Cantonese and French techniques.
VEA, 30/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
22/24 Yung’s Bistro’s White Rabbit candy custard
Be it in Chinese New Year snack trays or a reward to acing a school test, White Rabbit candies were always a treat for Hongkongers growing up. Yung's Bistro’s brings the candy back in the form of a milky custard pudding in the shape of a rabbit that’s almost too cute to eat—almost.
Yung's Bistro, Shop 701, 7/F, K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
23/24 Yat Lok’s roast goose leg noodles
Crispy on the outside, full of juices within, Yat Lok’s roast goose is legendary, but if you’re just passing by and can’t commit to a full bird, a roast goose leg (ngor bei) on lai fun (rice noodles) is the ideal gluttonous mid-afternoon snack.
Yat Lok, G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
24/24 Yardbird’s tsukune
Meatballs from the chicken masters that made yakitori essential eating in this city. Charcoal-grilled to perfection, served with an egg yolk for dipping. The answer to that eternal question, “chicken or egg?” is both.
Yardbird, G/F, 154-158 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
See also: Yardbird's Matt Abergel Wins James Beard Award For First Cookbook, Chicken And Charcoal
This story was originally published in the 2021 edition of Tatler Dining Best Restaurants, out now at all good bookstores
- Illustration Raxenne Maniquiz